Property by Valerie Martin

Set in Louisiana in 1828, Property by Valerie Martin is about Manon Gaudet, married to a sugar plantation owner she cannot stand and her slave Sarah, whom she cannot stand either. Manon takes a lot of her anger and resentment out on Sarah, who in turn is not a likeable character either, slave or not. Manon is unable to conceive, which she is happy about, and we know that it is not her husband’s fault, since he has fathered two children with Sarah, the oldest child Walter allowed to roam the plantation when Manon’s husband feels like it. Manon’s resentment, depression and anger grows. She is missing New Orleans, love and frienship, a life, any life not her own. She is totally unable to take the outstretched hand offered to her by her frustrated husband, and things reach a dramatic climax when a group of rebellious slaves break into the plantation one night.

It struck me that I could not find any sympathy any of the main characters in this story. They were all rather despicable characters, although for various reasons. The writing is clear and cut to the bone. No unneccessary wording or descriptions. The reader is left with a feeling of slight despair on behalf of all characters, although I really didn’t like them much. I did like the book though and it is highly recommendable. Now I just need a more non-fiction approach to life in Louisiana in the early 19th Century. Very interesting.